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The Surrogacy UK Working Group on Legal Reform
The SUK Working Group has been instrumental in campaigning for change to UK law on surrogacy. As well as contributing to the first ever Government guidance on surrogacy, we are the secretariat for an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on surrogacy, which is chaired by Andrew Percy MP.
Our report ‘Surrogacy in the UK: myth busting and reform’ – a landmark document, calling for evidence-based reform – formed the basis for a 2016 conference, the papers from which were subsequently published in a special edition of a law journal, as well as the 2016 House of Lords debate on surrogacy law reform.
In 2015 we launched a letter writing campaign that resulted in the highest ever number of responses to a Law Commission consultation and helped secure a root and branch review of UK surrogacy law due to start later this year.
We actively campaign for and support legal reform to enable single people to apply for parental orders. You can read the latest research paper on the remedial order that is laid before parliament here.
In early 2015 Surrogacy UK created a working group to examine UK surrogacy laws. We wanted to:
1) ensure the voices of those actually experiencing surrogacy – intended parents, surrogates and children born through surrogacy – were injected into the debate
2) ensure that any calls for reform are evidence-based (not based on myths or assumptions)
3) ensure that reform recognises UK surrogacy as a positive and accepted form of assisted reproduction
4) ensure that reform will improve the lived experience of surrogacy.
Our starting point was to collaborate with other organisations and leading voices to form a working group to examine the issues around legal reform. The working group consists of the following people:
Natalie Smith (Chair) – member of Surrogacy UK and mum to twin girls born through surrogacy
Sarah Jones – Chair of Surrogacy UK and 4 times surrogate
Dr Kirsty Horsey – Reader in Law at Kent Law School
Sarah Norcross – Director of the Progress Educational Trust (PET)
Louisa Ghevaert – expert in surrogacy, fertility and parenting law at Michelmores LLP.
The video below give a summary of why we need reform and the findings of our report:
Our 2015 report was based on the largest ever UK survey on surrogacy. It concluded that surrogacy laws were out of date and in dire need of reform. We need laws that put the welfare of the child first, remove discrimination, improve access to UK surrogacy and recognise the reality of how surrogacy works in practice.
We therefore recommend that:
- The principle of altruistic surrogacy, which operates in the UK must be protected to reflect that surrogacy is a relationship, not a transaction.
- Parental orders should be pre-authorised so that legal parenthood is conferred on intended parents at birth.
- Intended parents should register the birth.
- Parental orders should be available to single people who use surrogacy – please note there is a remedial order currently laid in parliament that we hope will address this.
- Parental orders should be available to IPs where neither partner has used their own gametes (‘double donation’).
- The time limit for applying for a parental order should be removed.
- Parental order/surrogacy birth data should be centrally and transparently collected and published annually.
- IVF surrogacy cycles and births should be accurately recorded by fertility clinics/ Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
- NHS funding should be made available for IVF surrogacy in line with NICE guidelines.
- The rules on surrogacy-related advertising and the criminalisation of this should be reviewed in the context of non-profit organisations.
We also recommend the following actions for government:
- The Department of Health, in consultation with the surrogacy community, should draft and publish a ‘legal pathway’ document for IPs and surrogates – please note this is now complete.
- The Department of Health should produce guidance for professionals in the field, written in consultation with the surrogacy community for midwives and hospitals, Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) and clinics – please note this is now complete.
- Surrogacy should be included in schools’ sex and relationships education (SRE) classroom curriculum (from primary) – linked to awareness of (in)fertility, family options for same sex partners etc.
If you would like to talk about our campaign please contact Natalie Smith